Success Story of Har Kishore Rai, UPSC 2010 Batch
To achieve success, have faith in yourself and focus on time management
‘Pratiyogita Darpan’ arranged an exclusive interview with Har Kishore Rai who has been
selected in Civil Services Exam., 2010 and has achieved 113th rank. HE deserves all
admiration and our heartiest congratulations on his splendid success. This important,
thought provoking and highly inspiring interview is being presented here in its original form.
Name: Har Kishore Rai
Father’s Name: Shri Laliteshwar Kumar Rai Akela
Mother’s Name: Smt. Subhadra Rai
10th: 1998, CBSE, Sunbeam English School, Varanasi (77.2%)
12th: 2000, CBSE, Central Hindu School, Varanasi (79.6%)
B.Tech: 2001-05, IIT Kanpur, 7.2 (CPI)
Previous Selections: I was selected for Indian Railways through Engineering Services
Examination twince in years 2008 and 2009 but joined only in 2009.
Favourite Person: Ex. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Strong Point: Determination towards my job and integrity
Weak Point: Meticulous Nature and poor time manager
Hobbies: Reading Newspapers and Magazines, Playing Outdoor Games.
PD: Achieving top slot in the CS Examination is no small feat; accept our heartiest
congratulations on your splendid success.
Har Kishore: Thank you very much.
PD: Can you recall the exact moment when you realized the importance of Civil Services?
Har Kishore: While doing my graduation at IIT Kanpur I came to know about the Civil
Services especially about the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian
Foreign Service from my batch-mates who were preparing for the Civil Services Examination.
I came to know about the scope in these services to contribute to the country and also get
recognized for your services. At the same time it entrusts you with great responsibility
which you have to take care of.
PD: Finally, at what point of time did you make up your mind to make career in ‘Civil
Har Kishore: Though it was in the back of my mind while doing my graduation yet the
tipping point came while working for Mahindra and Mahindra as an Assistant Engineer I
realized that I am not very much interested in the routine kind of job that I was doing. I
thought that my generalist nature and urge to contribute directly to the country will be
better satisfied if I opt for career in the Civil Services.
PD: You must have read IAS Toppers’ interviews in newspapers / magazines; what inspired
you the most? Any particular success story which influenced your journey to this result?
Har Kishore: Yes I did read lots of IAS Toppers’ interviews and thing that inspired me the
most was that every success story was unique and people from every spectrum of the
society were represented in the Civil Services. As of now I cannot recall any particular
PD: Was CSE a planned decision or your parent’s wish? Did you keep in mind some time
frame, for the examination preparation and number of attempts?
Har Kishore: Appearing for CSE was entirely my decision though my family whole heartedly
supported me in every thick and thin. Regarding time frame and planning it was my mistake
that I was a bit overconfident and was not well planned in my previous attempts. It really
requires lots of planning and selection of optional subjects play a major role.
PD: The first step is the most difficult; how to prepare? Which optional subjects to pick?
What to read? How much to read? Many such questions come to your mind when you really
get serious about Civil Services Examinations?
From where did you get the right advice?
Har Kishore: One of the best sources of information is the UPSC website. And then, for
specific questions who are already in service. Now a day’s social networking sites like
Facebook, Orkut, twitter etc are a good platform for getting guidance from already
successful people. Also some of them have created their blog sites which are a good source
PD: Were you confident of your success in this examination and how did you react to this
news of your success?
Har Kishore: Yes I was quite confident of getting selected in this examination but was not
sure of the Service I am going to get. After seeing my result on the UPSC website it took
some time for the success to sink in. I informed my family members and thanked Almighty.
PD: In how many attempts have you achieved this success? How do you visualize your
preparation / previous attempts?
Har Kishore: This was my 4th attempt. In my earlier attempts though the amount of effort I
had put was almost of effort I had put was almost the same yet I had faltered on the
selection of optional subjects. I ignored the fact that the difficulty level of the science
subjects has been on the rise since the year 2000 and selected science optional.
PD: Were you preparing for other career opportunities as well while preparing for your
ultimate goal i.e., Career in Civil Services?
Har Kishore: No.
PD: While the changing economic environment offers immense lucrative career
opportunities in various sectors, still what kept you motivated towards Civil Services?
Har Kishore: Yes it is true that emerging environment offers immense lucrative career
opportunities in various sectors but I was never attracted by pay package and was
motivated by the scope that these services would offer me to contribute back to the society
and the kind of challenges that these services offer is incomparable to any other job.
PD: While mking final choice for optional subject / s, what’s important and what’s not?
Share your thoughts and opinions.
Har Kishore: Some of the things to keep in mind while selecting optional subjects:
i. Never be afraid of any subject just thinking that you don’t have background in
ii. Now a days it has become an established fact backed by data that humanities
subjects are a safer bet. Even though 1-2 candidates in science subjects get more
than 400 marks which is highlighted but marks of those below them are
significantly lower and hence the percentage of successful candidates with good
rank is in single digit.
iii. Read the syllabus and previous years question papers to check your aptitude for
that subject and choose those subjects which attract you. Even you can read 1-2
books to get a feel of it.
iv. Public Administration, Sociology, Geography, Language (except English), History,
Psychology, Philosophy (especially in Hindi medium) are some of the popular
subjects from which you can choose.
PD: What were your optional subjects? Give the basis of selecting them.
Har Kishore: Prelims: Geography, selected because it appeared to be more scientific and
hence easy to understand for me and hence easier to select the correct option in objective
(i) Geography – I selected it because I am having science background and
Geography being one of the most scientific humanities subjects. Further the
number of candidates achieving success with geography optional is normally
more than 150 and I was confident of being one among them. and
(ii) Public Administration – It appeared to be natural choice to me out of all
humanities subjects because it vividly describes the nature of job which I was
aiming at. Further the number of candidates achieving success with geography
optional is normally more than 200 and I was confident of being one among
PD: Did you keep the same optional subjects in all your attempts?
Har Kishore: No this was one of the biggest mistakes which I committed. My earlier
attempts were with the subjects:
(1) Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering.
(2) Mechanical Engineering and Public Administration.
(3) Mechanical Engineering and Public Administration.
So I would advise future aspirants to give enough time and thought to the selection
of optional subjects and once selected stick to it.
PD: In your opinion at which Educational Level should one start preparing for Civil Services
and what should be the minimum period of time required to prepare for Civil Services
Har Kishore: This is a very subjective question. For some who have done their schooling
seriously and are able to recall the things taught in Matriculation and Intermediate level it
requires only 10-12 months while for those who have to start afresh it will take longer time
to prepare which varies from 1-3 years of serious preparations.
PD: What is your opinion regarding the general view that Science subjects have better
chance to score than Humanities?
Har Kishore: I completely disagree with this opinion and I am the live example lof this. It
might be the case in 1990s. But situation has drastically reversed after 1999 when the whole
syllabus for science subjects was changed and also the difficulty level of the Science optional
papers has been increased. In my previous attempts I appeared once with two science
optional and twice with one Science subject as optional and could not succeed getting
interview call. The preparation required for Science optional definitely impacts the
preparation of other optional and General Studies. In my last attempt I appeared with
Geography and Public Administration and got the success. Statistics also reflect the same
trend. Today out of total successful candidates about 60% are engineers of which only 2-3%
opt for science subjects.
PD: What is the importance of medium of examination for exams like CSE?
Har Kishore: Medium of Examination does not have much impact on the result of CSE. UPSC
has quite elaborate system to even it out. But definitely people who study in their
vernacular medium face difficulty in CSAT and qualifying English Paper.
PD: Does the educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant have
any impact on the preparation?
Har Kishore: Yes educational, financial and demographic status of the family of an aspirant
does have the impact on the preparation and success because people who start preparation
early due to favourable environment in the family does have advantage in terms of time
taken and also in overall success. Also most of the successful candidates undergo training in
coaching institutions which is available only to financially strong families.
PD: In your opinion what role do the Competition Magazines play when you are preparing
for an examination like Civil Services?
Har Kishore: Competition Magazines play essential role in preparation of Civil Services. They
not only tell us about the whole examination process but also provide previous years’
papers and quality input on various topics like science and technology, International
Relations, Bilateral Relations, National and Social Issues and other Current Affairs. They also
provide Mock tests for practicing before actual Exams.
PD: According to a recent report published by reputed survey agency, PRATYOGITA DARPAN
(Hindi) is the largest read Career and competition magazine. It has overall 2 nd spot among all
magazines published in India. How do you find Pratiyogita Darpan?
Har Kishore: The survey report reflects the reality. As far as I have seen it is almost
indispensable for the candidates appearing in recruitment exams for various posts under
Central and State government. Also it is equally important for the Hindi Medium candidates
appearing for Civil Services Examination. The English medium edition needs to be more
focussed towards Civil Services Examination to attract more English medium candidates for
Civil Services Examination.
PD: Please give your comments on the PD Extra Issues Series on ‘General Studies’ and a few
Har Kishore: PD Extra Issues series on General Studies is excellent and one can easily clear
Prelims reading these issues. I haven’t referred to the issues on Optional Subjects so I
cannot comment on it.
PD: Did you refer to Pratiyogita Darpan-Year Book? What is your opinion about the
contents, size and the time of publishing?
Har Kishore: I have seen it. The contents, size and time of publishing is appropriate. I
couldn’t refer to it extensively due to paucity of time though I had a glance through it.
PD What preference in services have you opted for?
Har Kishore: IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS(IT).
PD: To whom would you like to give the credit for your success?
Har Kishore: To my family members and Almighty.
PD: Any suggestion / advice you would like to give to the future aspirants.
Har Kishore: Have faith in yourself and focus on Time Management. Keep yourself
motivated by thinking about the esteemed Service you are planning to enter.
Thank you very much and wishing you all the best for your future endeavours.
Courtesy: Pratiyogita Darpan
Dream Dare Win